Behind the Monk at work

An interview with the Part-time Monk’s full-time boss

A few have commented on what an ideal situation it would be to have a boss that would allow one to drink on the job. While it’s no laughing matter–there is work to be done–it is a perfect employment for taking on a project like Diary of a Part-time Monk for a couple of reasons: 1) I’m allowed to drink on the job; and 2) it’s a job that includes a fair amount of non-calorie-burning desk time, which is helpful.

My bosses all enjoy good beer, and one of the publishers is even a homebrewer. Indeed, my work environment would be agreeable to many, but not possible without a high level of responsibility. One of the initial concerns of the project was ensuring that I’d be able to perform well. That has turned out well.

The project wouldn’t be possible without the blessing of my bosses, and for that I’m very grateful. They attended the release party and field a lot of non-work-related phone calls. For an insight into my general manager’s mind, I tracked down an exclusive interview with Jon Groves (pictured above-right, playing along with J.’s plan for Halloween). Enjoy!

You knew J. before he started working for you. Can you provide some background on hiring this kook?

Well, it started out as us being frequent patrons at his restaurant. Then he ran an ad in our paper about a beer tasting. It was a blind tasting which was a really good way to get into craft beers. It showed you how crappy macro beer really was. After that I did everything I could to attend all the others to learn as much as I could. So attending several of those and eating at the Burrito every Tuesday, and often another day during the week, I got to know J. pretty well.

One day our editor at the time told me he was taking another job closer to home. So after running an ad in our paper we had several resumes come in. One was a PhD; there were a couple of bigger newspaper editors who wanted a slow down in their later years and a few college graduates. So when J. came in with an application I was surprised. Not because I didn’t know he had an English degree but that he wanted a change of pace. I remember him wearing a tie and me trying not to laugh. I knew he had to work at the restaurant but he dressed up for the interview. He even commented on how uncomfortable it was and how he didn’t want anyone to see him.

The interview went great, so great in fact I didn’t even interview anyone else. Even though those other people had more experience than he did you just get those feelings that someone is right for the job. He fits in well with our mentality and that’s a big reason we hired him.

What was the first thought that crossed your mind when he approached you about approval to drink beer at work as part of this project?

The very first thing that came to mind was how is this going to work? Is he going to be drunk, will he be able to do his job? What will people think in town? Living in the small town we do people like to talk and make accusations without knowing the full story. So as a business owner it was something I was conscious about. Then after talking with him more about it and getting to know all the details I was all for it. It’s not some “drunken frat boy thing” that he came up with on a whim, he’s really thought it through.

This must be a great place to work; what’s it like day to day?

Being a weekly paper, it really depends on the day. Mondays we talk about the paper coming up for the week. I know J. goes through hundreds of emails, while I go through all the mail and our sales rep Teri finishes up any ads that need to be taken care of. Tuesday is all about putting the paper together. Some days we are done by noon and others, say election nights, we are up until midnight or later waiting for results and sending pages to the printer. Wednesday through Friday is more relaxed. Usually we look over the printed paper, talk to those who come to pick up their paper and get ready what we can for next week’s paper. When J. wasn’t fasting we would usually share a beer at least one day a week and, of course, there are donuts.

How’s J.’s work performance with all this beer in his system?

There are a couple little things that have changed. I’m used to him telling me something twice but usually there are a few days between when he does but lately his mentioned the same thing in the same day, sometimes just an hour apart. I’ve notice that he searches for words when he’s talking more than he used to. Nothing major but little things that I’ve noticed from working around him for the past year and a half.

Is he drunk all the time?

What definition are you using for drunk? Is he slurring words and stumbling around drunk? No. Has he been a tad tipsy from having two beers back to back so he could get enough nourishment before an appointment? Only one time that I can recall.

What’s been the biggest hassle for you with regard to this Monk thing?

The media attention has been ridiculous. The first week or so I commented to someone to how I feel more like his secretary than his boss. While he was on the phone doing one interview I would answer two calls about more people wanting to interview him. I think he even said how he didn’t plan for all the interviews that people wanted.

J. boasts that he’s the “Staff Morale Officer” at his office. What does this mean?

What doesn’t it mean? He has done everything from plan a tour of a distillery to bring donuts and Mexican chocolate cake to cranking some good tunes loud to put everyone in a better mood. Just the little things he does to brighten our day.

Are you hiring?

Not at the moment, but if J. gets famous and leaves us for bigger and better things, then I guess I’ll be looking for an editor.


One Response to Behind the Monk at work

  1. Ramona says:

    Working for the Adams County Free Press had been a dream of mine since I was seventeen and a senior in high school. The dream came true in 1995 when I moved back to Corning and was hired by Dan Field for the bookkeeper position. Dan even allowed me to fulfill another dream – that of writing for the Free Press.
    And while I enjoyed working with Dan and humbly adored working with Paul Gauthier, I think the opportunity to work with J. Wilson would be one of major enlightenment.

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